‘We create mosquito sex parties’: How an eco-friendly, AI-guided release of sterile mosquito females might control the scourge of disease-carrying insects

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Mosquito larvae. Credit: Unhappy Hipsters
Mosquito larvae. Credit: Unhappy Hipsters

Jerusalem-based Diptera.ai has figured out a way to use AI to fight the growing threat of mosquitoes, which are spreading malaria and viruses like Zika, dengue, and yellow fever. While the method for fighting mosquitoes has been around for decades, AI can take it to a new level and democratize what was otherwise a very costly and localized abatement effort.

[Diptera.ai CEO Vic] Levitin believes his company can stop mosquitoes by the billions, mainly by releasing sterile males to mate with females. “We create mosquito sex parties,” he said.

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The sterile insect technique (SIT) is a biological pest control method in which mostly government-run entities release overwhelming numbers of sterile male insects into the wild. These sterile males mate with female mosquitoes, which are the only mosquitoes that bite humans and animals. The female mosquitoes only mate once in their lifetimes, but they each lay hundreds of eggs. If they can be tricked into mating with sterile males, then they won’t create offspring.

“The sterile insect technique is the most effective,” Levitin said. “Mosquitoes mate once as females in their lives. If they mate with sterile males, then it suppresses the population.”

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